We get to the Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic (it’s referred to as the Diabetes Clinic), and I’m still promising lunch when we get done. How long can this possibly take?
I fill out forms and questionnaires; we sit in an overly warm waiting room. She’s nervous, I can tell. Her coat is zipped all the way to the top and her cheeks are starting to flush and she refuses to take it off. She obliges me by unzipping it. I hang mine on the crowded coat rack.
We are taken to the back for the usual height, weight and blood pressure checks. We are introduced to a nurse, Sally, who’s farther into middle-age than me and wearing a fuzzy pink sweater with a square, crystal or cubic zirconia pin attached to her sweater’s neckline at her collar bone. It’s set so it’s lines follow the ones of her sweater’s seam, so it looks like it’s cocked on it’s point, but it’s not really. She seems very cheerful and smiles at us like we are old friends. It was a real smile, not the nervous or tight lipped ones from the pediatrician’s off ice or the ladies at the reception desk here. I like her already, and can’t say why. The nurse taking Sugar Bug’s vitals says we’ll be going back to see her in one of the rooms once we get called back from the waiting room.
Our wait is not very long and we are soon ushered into a room with a view of the parking lot. It’s an unusually warm day for early January, in the mid 50’s, and it’s raining steadily. It is very cold in this room and I wish I had my coat with me. I hate breaking out in a cold sweat, especially in situations like these, where uncertainty and tension reign.
Nurse Sally talks about diabetes a bit and asks questions: how long have we noticed symptoms, any ______ (about medical history)? Did you have _____ done? Most of this means very little to me. I explain we were at her doctor’s earlier, and then sent straight here and have no idea about much of anything. Sally says we need to do a couple of quick blood tests and Sugar Bug starts to cry. (Did I mention how much she hates needles?) Nurse Sally reassures us these do not require large needles, only a quick poke on her finger to collect just a couple of drops, and that’s all. She calms down a little, but the tears come back after getting her finger poked. They draw up enough for about three drops. One test showed her blood sugar at that moment; another was going to show her sugar levels over the past three months. I don’t even know what the third one was. I mentally chide myself for not asking, but figure it wouldn’t be done if it weren’t necessary. At this point I’m very grateful we have health insurance.
We talk with Nurse Sally some more and soon Diabetes Doctor comes in to talk with us. It’s now past 1:30 PM, and now we are both very hungry. This is taking much longer than I had thought. Of course, no one told us how much time this would take either. I thought about asking, but figured it would be pointless since the fatal flaw in all of my best laid plans was always me, and if I planned to be home in another hour, well, let’s just say I knew that plan would fall apart before it ever got made. Diabetes Dr says we need to go for blood tests at the lab. He points vaguely out the window toward what must have been a door in the adjacent building and says we can just walk over there and come back when it was done.
Off we go.
We sign in and the clock in the lab says 2:03 PM. My phone starts to vibrate in my coat pocket. I see it’s Sonny Boy, and tell Sugar Bug that I’m going to step back into the hallway to talk to him. He asks how much longer we were going to be. “I have no idea. We’re at the lab to get blood tests done, then we have to go back to the doctor’s office and then I’m not sure what will happen. It’s going to be at least another hour or so for sure.”
“Oh, well I was just wondering what was for lunch.”
(Good grief, of all the things to call about, you had to ask about lunch. You are 15, you can figure out your own lunch.) That’s what runs through my head, but he has no idea what kind of day his sister and I are having, or what we’re actually facing as far as major changes for our family. I hope my “kind voice” is the one he hears because that’s the one I’m trying to use. I give him some ideas. He then says that the SD card he bought on e-Bay came, but it’s not the one in the description. He wants to know how to handle taking care of getting a refund, or exchange or something. He chatters on about the description, and pictures in the listing and how they were different… I mentally remind myself that I can’t ignore what he needs, and keep looking through the glass door to watch for any change in Sugar Bug’s face in case they called her name. I can see by the look that they hadn’t, and I have some time to deal with this. “Contact the seller, and find out…” I give my advice and he seems happy enough with that for the time being. Silently I’m hoping he hasn’t gotten sheisted and lost his $14.00.
In the in-between times I’ve also called the Hubby to keep him as informed as possible. I could hear in his voice he was very surprised his little girl has diabetes. I could hear he’s catching a cold, and also apprehension and a touch of fear. If he could have, he would have dropped everything and sped across town to come join us. It crosses my mind to call him again, but with no new news to report I decide to wait.
We get called to come back and have the blood draw done. I was relieved to see how they do the draw in this lab—not the usual vacuum tube, but with a manual syringe attached to a small line—you can tell they work with a lot of kids. Sugar Bug does okay for the draw, and we stand and chat with the phlebotomist while she transfers the syringes to the vacuum tubes and she says her head hurts really bad. Shame on me for thinking she was making it up, for whatever reason she may have had. Next thing I know her half-hug goes limp and she’s dropping to the floor.
Faster than I can write this they had a snap-tube of smelling salts under her nose and an ice pack on her head. We get her coat off her—it took passing out to finally get it off—and wait for her to come around. She’s looking at me, well at least her eyes are pointed at mine, but she’s not ‘seeing’ anything yet. I feel so bad for her. She’s tired, hungry, hot and seeing all those tubes of her own blood must have just pushed her over the edge. They help her up and onto a table into a little room off this one and she’s aware enough to decide she’d prefer some apple juice. “What happened?” is all she could muster. I call Hubby and give him an update, and let him know she’s just passed out, but doing fine now. Again, the tone in his voice tells me he’s more worried than the words are saying. He says he’d like her to call him later, when she has a chance.
As we walk back to the Diabetes Clinic I’m already tired of thinking about living with diabetes, and it’s just been a couple of hours. ‘Good grief, what’s the rest of her life going to be like?’ I also make another mental note to remember that not everyone thinks it’s as cool as I do to see vials and vials of blood lying on a counter top. It’s now painfully obvious Sugar Bug would vote NOT COOL when it comes to seeing blood, especially her own.